20130202ACATHMin    ACA Star Gaze


The Astronomy Club of Augusta met for our monthly Star Gaze on February 2, 2013, 6PM at NMR-DSO.  Twelve (12) attended.


The evening started out cold but dark and clear. We could see all of the Winter Hexagon and northern constellations. The Andromeda Galaxy was just visible naked eye for those who knew where to look, or followed the pointer!  Stan brought out the Televue Genesis refractor for a good look at Jupiter, and possible view of the Great Red Spot..  Its four Galilean moons were all on the same side.   Kenneth brought out the 8" Meade reflector, Mike B. showed us numerous clusters and asterisms including Messier objects with his big binoculars.  Lalit, Simar & Sabi looked through all of these,  Vic brought his Dobsonian, Steve and Diane brought their new Schmidt Cassegrain, and Mark M. brought his reflector as well.  After about 1.5 hrs the clouds moved in quickly.  We tried for some last glimpses and then decided to go on in.  Three went on home to study for tests.


The rest of us enjoyed chili, pretzels, veggies and dip, coffee and hot chocolate.


We had a good time getting to know  new members a little better.  Vic agreed to help update our "Other links" page. 

We got very positive response to our plan to go to ALCON in July.  We will talk more about it as soon as AL puts out more information about it.

Mike B. agreed to lead our Messier Marathon on March 9, 6:00PM.  Please come early to identify as many Messier Objects as possible.  Mike agreed to stay pretty late, but declined an all nighter.  John explained the Globe at Night project, using brown paper bags, to measure seeing magnitude.  It turned cloudy this evening before we had a chance to try it out, but we plan to make it a part of our observing on March 9.  It should be fun for all ages. 


Two schools have asked us to present an astronomy program.  One is on March 8, Fri.8-1:30PM in North Augusta.  Mike B. plans to bring his Coronado Solar scope and lead our group of volunteers, including Vic, Steve and Diane.  The other is on March 12, Tues.6-8PM in Evans.  John W. will lead this group.  Mark M. volunteered to help.  School programs can be a wonderful outreach as well as rewarding to you, so please volunteer to be on our ACA team. 


Tedda reminded us that our Annual Awards ceremony in July is only five months away, plenty of time to complete your Lunar Award, but only if you get started now.  Get out your list, check it out with Virtual Moon Atlas, list your viewing equipment, and start discovering fascinating lunar details at home, and after our meeting on Feb.15, Friday. 


We ask everyone to make a special effort to come to this meeting and bring as many family and friends as possible.  Our out of town speaker is coming a long distance just for us.  It is a very interesting topic.  Good attendance is the best compliment we can give.  Please come and support your ACA programs.


Respectfully submitted,

Tedda Howard





The Astronomy Club of Augusta met for our monthly meeting and lunar observation on February 15, 2013, 7PM at ASU/GRU. Twenty-nine (29) total attended: 24 members, and five (5) guests.


The meeting was opened by our president Tedda who welcomed the members and guests. She then turned the meeting over to Ken who introduced the speaker for the evening. Dr. Joseph H. Jones is currently Associate Professor of Physics, teaching Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, GA.


Dr. Jones' presentation, “Precision Differential Photometry from a Non-Precision Site”, first addressed his objective at the North Georgia Astronomical Observatory (NGAO), which is to “expand undergraduate and amateur research potential”. His PREPS approach involves five factors: 1) the results must be Publishable in a refereed program, 2) the process must be achieved within Reasonable time constraints, 3) an Excitement factor must exist, 4) it must Prepare the student for post graduate work and 5) it Serves a range of academic levels.

His undergraduate research program allows students to actively participate in the identification of solar systems by determining transit situations. Students measure and monitor minute changes in light magnitude using a 16” Boller and Chivens telescope and perform the tedious data reduction techniques to document their research results for possible publication.

The program, HD209458, began in 2001, made little progress until 2007 with the addition of a new Apogee CCD camera. In addition to presenting the program’s research results, Dr. Jones touched on the subject of light pollution, identifying the “dark circle of Georgia”. This area forms a dark ring between the cities of Atlanta, Augusta, Chattanooga and Spartanburg and provides optimal sites for observation with minimal light pollution.

Our thanks to Dr Jones for an interesting and informative presentation, and to Ken for making the arrangements. For more information check the NGAO website.

Many interesting questions and comments came up during the discussion.

Tedda continued the evening with announcements:

. . 1. Mike B. agreed to lead our Messier Marathon on March 9, 6:00PM, at NMR-DSO.

. . 2. Two schools have asked us to present an astronomy program. One is on March 8, Fri.8-1:30PM in North Augusta. Stan will lead this group of Vic, Steve, Diane, Kenneth, Ron F, and Tedda. The other is on March 12, Tues.6-8PM in Evans. John W. will lead this program. Mark M. volunteered to help.

. . 3. March 22nd 7:00 PM at RPSEC, Aiken: Our program will be Reaching for the Stars: Interstellar Space Travel presented by Dr. Clayton Heller, Head of the Dept. of Physics, Georgia Southern University. The nominating committee will meet.

. . 4. April 20th ACA hosts National Astronomy Night at RPSEC. Thanks to several people who already signed up to help. Please volunteer.

. . 5. If you start now, you have four (5) meetings and plenty of time to complete your Lunar Award list in time for our Annual Awards ceremony in July. Several members are currently making good progress toward this award.

. . 6. July 24 – 27th ALCON 2013 will be held in Atlanta this year. Club members are discussing a caravan. Please put these dates on your calendar, and sign up if you are interested.

. . 7. Thanks to Vic for updating our Other Links page. It is ready for you to use!

. . 8. Accessories for LX200-10 or similar scope available by another club. If interested, email Tedda.


Stan shared the news video of the large meteor that exploded just before landing in Russia today – equally amazing and un-nerving to watch.

Mark Moffat presented a 2 minute talk on Mare Tranquillitatis. He showed us several craters we would be able to see this evening. He also showed us where Apollo 11 landed near the NW rim, and Apollo 17 landed near the SW rim.

Simar showed us his processed CCD and digital photos of stars, galaxies and nebula from our last star gaze, as well as his quick video of our event last June of the Transit of Venus.

Kolby won an observing log book for listing the planets in order and suggesting a new video editing program.


Many thanks to Virginia for providing delicious refreshments, including a spicy bean & veggie dip with chips and her Valentine Red Velvet cake. We all enjoyed some time to eat and chat before heading out to the lawn for lunar observations.


The evening was not too cold and fairly clear. Telescopes and binoculars were set up by Stan, Mike B, Dot, and Elizabeth. We observed the winter constellations, and Jupiter and its four Galilean moons. Those working on the Lunar Lists were able to identify many craters and maria on the 5 day old moon including: Maria – Crisium, Serentatis, Tranquillitatis, Fecunditatis, and Nectaris, and Craters – Piccolomini, Theophilus, Cyrillus, Catharina, Posidonius, and Fracastorius.


After a very productive evening of presentations and observing, the meeting broke up around 11:30 when the moon was too far down on the horizon to view.


Respectfully submitted,

Dot Valentine